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Comparative anatomy of newborn mammals

Questions to be investigated

The current research investigates the skin structure of neonatal Marsupialia and Monotremata with respect to cutaneous gas exchange. Preliminary results show that gas exchange via the skin is commonplace in Marsupialia and cutaneous respiration replaces or supports lung respiration depending on the respective degree of lung maturation. Another project on the model organism Monodelphis domestica focuses on the structural development of essential organ systems (lung, kidney) and the gene expression of relevant genes. The organogenesis of Marsupialia and Plazentalia is conserved but timely shifted. The slowly postnatal development of Marsupialia allows conclusions for the intauterine organogenesis in Placentalia.


The morphological investigations include histological and ultrastructural (TEM) methods, for the gene expression PCR – analysis are planned.

Selected publications

Ferner K, Schultz JA, Zeller U (2017) Comparative anatomy of neonates of the three major mammalian groups (monotremes, marsupials, placentals) and implications for the ancestral mammalian neonate morphotype. J. Anat. 231, 798—822. doi: 10.1111/joa.12689